With 11 wins out of 12, a 100% record in the league and a return to form following a micro-lull, football supporters ouwith those of a Rangers persuasion (and outwith Scotland, of course) might be forgiven for thinking the Ibrox side were pretty content with both the squad and the results – but as manager Mark Warburton keeps preaching, Rangers constantly need to improve and develop.
To that end, what are the areas which require strengthening come January?
One obvious area is that of defensive midfield, and in Rangers’ case the pertinent problem that the side lacks one. Andy Halliday has done as well as he can out of position in that slot, but he is wasted there and is better deployed as an attacking threat – something his manager knows only too well, but is left without option, having also deemed young Andy Murdoch too green to be a first-team squad member. The John Eustace saga rumbles on and shows no sign of ending, so right now, the damning truth is Rangers quite simply have no defensive midfielder. This is a situation desperately requiring fixing next year.
Another is the defence – while Wilson and Kiernan have had their ‘moments’, they have been mostly solid, but only have young Dominic Ball in reserve – in short, Rangers have a mere three centre-backs. Sources say Mark Warburton knew he would lose Marius Zaliukas, but was counting on McGregor to stay, hence Rangers having four CBs. As we know, the former St Mirren stopper ended up quitting unexpectedly (it is understood he requested to take Zaliukas’ place as a departure, with a reduced payoff), before Zaliukas also departed regardless. So with Rangers merely relying on a trio now, a new CB is pretty important come January.
Last but not least is a striker. Martyn Waghorn is currently on fire, with 14 before October even starts, but half of them are penalties and he is known to be a tad profligate in front of goal, albeit may be weeding that indiscipline out of his game more recently. That said, his only competitor is the rather unreliable Kenny Miller, who might be working well in deeper striking positions, but just does not score any more – Rangers could use another reliable goal-getter up top. With former target Stevie May making his way to PNE on a three-year deal, Warbs may turn to the youth ranks of Arsenal and Spurs, to name just two, where his contacts have proven extremely fruitful.
Rangers will not rest on their laurels come the next window.